Mindset

Resistance as an Ally Rather Than a Foe

Here's a fresh take on what can be a debilitating force.

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Photo by Becca Matimba on Unsplash

 By Cindy Yantis

"Focused attention yields the best results." - Melinda Hughes

Melinda is my personal trainer and the owner of The Strength Shoppe, a high-intensity training (HIT) facility in Pasadena, California. And, this quote, from their website, exemplifies what most I've learned from training with her.

HIT is a slow burn, really intense, focused workout where with each weightlifting exercise you exhaust an isolated muscle or group of muscles to a slow count of ten. It's also called Super Slow, Slow Cadence, Power of 10, or Resistance Training.

It takes such focused concentration to get through a set of the slow ten. The tendency is to put all of your body behind trying to lift the weight. That's when Melinda says to direct your brain to focus on the specific body part so that the target muscles are worked to their max. That wasn't something I'd done before.

I was amazed at how when you place your undivided attention, singly, on one body part, you can actually feel the isolated muscle doing its thing. The brain is so powerful. Then, the rest of the body is just there to support.

Toward the end of the set, the weight is so heavy that it barely moves, if at all. This is when the body's flight or fight response starts to kick in, wanting to give up or drop the weight. And, that's when Melinda says to "lean into the fire instead of pushing past it." It is, in fact, what provides the most benefit, leaning into the resistance.

In a recent yoga class, we were holding a lower body twist, for several moments. My hip flexors were screaming at me. That's when the instructor said in her soft zen voice, "Allow your awareness to go to the place of resistance. Focus on softening the edges, the tissues around the resistance. Now, find the place in yourself where you can settle deeper into it."

This all got me thinking about the broader force of Resistance and how it shows up in other ways. Everywhere, to be more exact.

In truth, I've been thinking about resistance a lot lately. What I’m noticing is that as I’m moving up and forward with projects in some new ways and at higher levels that I haven’t tried before, I’m meeting an internal resistance that feels like a gust of wind connected to an electric fence. It can be a really powerful force that pushes and pulls at the same time.

“Where there is power, there is resistance.” - Michel Foucault

THE LAW OF RESISTANCE

There are schools of thought that put Resistance right up there with the other powerful laws of the universe including the laws of Attraction, of Polarity, of Vibration, and of Compensation to name a few.

Jasmine Contor Dawson in "Aliens to Zebras: Dictionary for a New World" defines the Law of Resistance is: "That which an individual pursues in anguish or anxiety, will inevitably remain elusive."

In thinking about this, I was drawn to read again from Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.” He’s my go-to expert about resistance, which he calls “most toxic force on the planet.” In fact, he devotes an entire chapter to this beautiful, terrible monster.

He says: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” He talks about how it's the root of so much unhappiness and “to yield to resistance deforms the spirit.” Pressfield considers resistance as strong a force field as gravity or electromagnetic, in that it can’t be “seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt.”

It’s an internal force, is always there and its aim is to repel.

He also says this. “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

So, when you're at the threshold, or the crossroads, feeling the pull to where your soul wants to go, succumbing to resistance can keep you at the crossroads. Forever.

LIVING IN THE CROSSROADS

Resistance can also show up as doubt that results in inaction.

According to Stephen Cope in "The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling" - one of the most life-changing books I've ever read - in yoga tradition they term doubt as "a thought that touches both sides of a dilemma at the same time " or "the invisible affliction" that is very powerful.

People have gotten stuck in doubt, and at some point, they came to a crossroads and found "themselves rooted there, with one foot firmly planted on each side of the intersection. Alas, they never moved off the dime. They procrastinated. Dithered. Finally, they put a folding chair smack in the center of that crossroads and lived there for the rest of their lives. After a while, they forgot entirely that there even was a crossroads-forgot that there was a choice."

Ugh! When I first read that a few years ago I felt the floor fall out from under me. It was a huge wakeup call. I realized how I'd allowed resistance to stop me enough, over and over, so much so that I'd set up camp at the crossroads! I became Mayor of Crossroads, USA!

HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS

However, as Stephen Pressfield also says, “Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer resistance.”

In addressing how to get out of the crossroads, Stephen Cope quotes the teaching in the "Bhagavad Gita: the Path of Inaction-in-Action," where Krishna says, "There is a certain kind of action that leads to freedom and fulfillment… an action that is always aligned with our true nature." Cope says this "is the action motivated by dharma. This is the action taken in the service of our sacred calling, our vocation."

So, then it's possible to embrace resistance, as an ally rather a foe.

"In dharma, it is possible to take passionate action without creating suffering." - Stephen Cope

To my way of thinking there’s something kind of comforting about that. When you think about it, if you welcome the resistance and recognize it as a threshold or crossroads through which you must pass to accomplish the next step toward your dream, purpose, and destiny, then when you make it your ally, it becomes part of your journey rather than a hindrance keeping you from moving forward.

"Hey, Luke. May the Force be with you." Hans Solo

When you fight resistance or procrastinate because of it, you're not present. Get present by talking about and releasing the fear that's underneath and fueling the resistance.

LEANING INTO THE FIRE

I know for me, I know when I'm in resistance about something, nine-times-out-of-ten it's something I need to do - for my body, for my work, for my life, for my soul. So leaning into it feels easier, and not only doable but necessary, and powerful. 

“If you try to force the soul, you never succeed.” John O’Donohue, "Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom"

SO...

  • Focus on it. As in my yoga and HIT experience, focusing on the resistance softens its edges because your awareness and attention are pointed towards it.
  • Be with it. Get present. Being in the now with the force restores inner strength and balance.
  • Get vulnerable. Brene Brown says, "Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It's the birthplace of everything we're hungry for…Most people believe vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. So -
  • Be courageous. Lean into the resistance and go forward.
  • Get creative. Creativity and spontaneity are energizing positive forces that help counterbalance the negative force of resistance.

And, Trust. Trust in all of these - focus, presence, vulnerability, courage, creativity and spontaneity.

They carry you through the threshold of resistance and across the crossroads of to your soul life, your purposeful life.

Interestingly, Pressfield also says that the resistance is only there when you’re faced with an up level. There’s no resistance going down, only up. Think about that for a moment. So, when resistance comes, welcome it because it only means you're on your way up.

“To fly we have to have resistance.” Maya Lin

So, I’ve decided to lean in, to be with resistance. I know it’s always going to be there. So instead of fighting it, I’m going to walk through it. Take one more step. Stretch beyond what I did yesterday. And, tomorrow will stretch beyond what I did today.

Who's with me?


How Do You Manage Your Life’s Bandwidth?

A Life Lesson I Learned From My Smartphone

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Photo by Alejandro Garrido Navarro on Unsplash

I was on the phone with my sister discussing an upcoming call about cryptocurrencies. She asked if I was going to tune in. I felt my breath quicken and my stomach churn, and it hit me. “I don’t have the personal bandwidth to take anything else into my brain right now,” I said.

My next call was to make a doctor’s appointment when up popped a message on my phone: “You’re almost out of storage.” 

Twenty minutes later Outlook sent me an email: “Your mailbox is nearly full.” And, I had to laugh out loud. No kidding!

Seriously, all three things happened within 45 minutes. Okay, okay I get it! I have no more bandwidth and am almost out of storage. The truth is I have a lot going on and that morning I realized just how overloaded I’ve been. I know I’m not alone on that score.

How has it affected me? Full disclosure, it was my cardiologist I was calling to make an appointment. My heart’s been racing enough to keep me up at night, I’ve been sighing heavily, often, and I’ve been forgetting things, like where I am and where I’m going. Pretty scary at times, actually. Fortunately, it looks like everything is fine physically and we’re altering medications which can also affect the ticker. All good. AND, he told me to slow down.

My Smartphone told me to “manage my settings” in order to deal with the dwindling amount of storage space, giving the choice to either buy more space or clean out existing apps/files to make room for what I want to keep and for when I want to add anything new. It’s pretty simple on a phone as you just go through your existing apps, examine how much storage they require and then decide if it’s worth keeping.

It got me thinking about the same rules could apply to my overloaded and overstimulated life. Time to make some room on my life bandwidth. I took a lesson from my Smartphone as I also pulled out my Marie Kondō's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Here’s a helpful 6-step process.

Place Everything in Front of You –

This is literal and metaphorical. First of all, think of your life as a big file cabinet, or dresser or basket or closet. Everything you’re working on, classes you’re taking, jobs you’re performing, all commitments, everything in your life is in that space. I’m calling mine a closet: my life closet. All lined up -- or actually kind of piled haphazardly -- are the four classes I’m taking, including all of the projects and homework involved, my work assignments, relationships, book clubs, writers groups and all other time commitments.

My life in a metaphorical closet.

Now, now take everything out of your life closet. Everything. Empty out your “space” by mentally removing them from your mental bandwidth.

One way is to list them out, don’t worry about the order yet, just get them all down. Or what I did, give every item an index card. Lay them out on the floor. Get them out of your head and onto the physical plane.

Sit in the Emptiness –

Interestingly, while I was going through this process I pulled a healing card for inspiration. The word on the card was Emptiness. I know, you just can’t make this stuff up. That inspired this next step.

Once you empty your life space and clear off your mental bandwidth, spend some quality time in the emptiness. Breathe into it for several moments. Take a look around at all of that room, the vastness of it, free from mental clutter. Feel the time open up as well, no deadlines, no ticking clock.

Just space.

There will be plenty of time to get back to all of those index cards on your floor. But, now is the time to honor your life space. What I discovered was how powerful my life energy is and how sacred my attention is in utilizing my life energy for my highest good.

Truly, take as much time as is necessary to truly honor how special and powerful your life energy is. Appreciate the sacredness of your attention because when it comes time to put things back in your life space, this will be vitally important.

Rank Them –

So, look at your list or your index cards. As on your Smartphone, give each item a value based on how much storage they require, how important they are to you in your life, timeliness, and joy.

This is where you spend time with each thing. As Marie Kondō espouses, pick up each item and hold it, only keeping what brings you joy.

“The act of discarding things on its own will never bring joy to your life. Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy." Marie Kondō

Conduct a Yes Survey

As you ponder each item in front of you, ask yourself these questions, or a version of these questions:

  • Does this bring me joy? If it’s not a hell yes, it’s probably a no.
  • Does this feel in alignment with my heart’s desire?

"Why go knocking at every other door? Go knock at the door of your own heart." Rumi 

  • Does this serve my highest good and/or the highest good of others?
  • Will this connect the dots between other items on my list?
  • Does it feel good in my body?

If you answer yes to these questions, then it’s worth your sacred attention and is deserving of valuable space in your life. If the answer is No to any of these, release them.

  • Is this a time and energy suck?
  • Do I keep losing interest or find myself not thinking about this?

The decision is obvious if you get a yes to either of these.

Give Yourself Permission

Once you’ve gone through this process with each life item in front of you, give yourself permission to delete, cancel, remove or quit the things that aren’t a 'hell yes' in the joy, alignment and soul’s calling departments.

This is where a lot of us stop ourselves. We’ve spent good money on classes or products or partnerships so there’s a part of us that can feel like a failure or a quitter if we don't complete them or hang onto them for good measure. But, the only person you’re failing or quitting is you, if you don’t end what isn’t doing you any good anyway.

So give yourself permission. Quit! Cancel! Delete!

Marie Kondō says to honor each thing before you release it, thanking it for it's contribution to your life. It helps. 

It really opens so much more time and space for all of the high vibrational in-alignment things in your life that you love. Keep doing more of those!

Mindfully Fill Your Closet

Now that you’ve carefully and thoughtfully selected those, and only those, things in your life that answer all of those yes questions, it’s time to place them back in your life space.

Slot them in mindfully, allowing the room, time and care they deserve.

Now, take a step back and give it a good look. How does it make you feel? What a joyful and purposeful life you’ll have redesigned for yourself.

Now, when something new comes along, you’ll take much greater care in what you place in your life space. It’s very special in there; you’re creating with purpose and intention.

I know for me, my intuition now has a clear guide. If I don’t get a hell yes, it’s not getting in!

 

Here’s Another Clear Guide

If you want to further expand your thinking while elevating and operating your life at a higher level, please check out my simple 8-step checklist that will help you get there.

Click here to get the CHECKLIST right now. 


How Procrastination Can Lead to Your Best Work

Because sometimes, procrastination isn't procrastination.

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Procrastination has gotten a bad rap. And, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the badness of it, and to browbeat ourselves over it. I get it. I’m an experienced perpetrator, judge and jury when it comes to the subject of procrastination, often handing down my own verdict: Bad Writer! 

As I’ve mentioned here I’ve been working on a memoir. And, for a while it was simply pouring out of me.

Until it wasn’t. It’s like the river of ideas just stopped flowing. I fell into what most people would call the abyss of procrastination, which kind of fascinated me, to be honest. I'd start by beating myself up, then by trying to pep myself up and then just giving up. It was a cycle that went on for days.

Then I realized, I was talking about the story with everyone I know, flushing out an idea for a title, discussing through lines, themes and what was underneath certain scenes, asking my family about specific events from childhood, clarifying my memory. The fact is, I’m thinking about this memoir all the time, like a hundred times a day. Also, I read some books about writing memoirs and connected with other memoirists to discuss various aspects of the genre.

That’s when it hit me. This is my process, not my procrastination. And, not just about writing. This is the way process shows up in every area of my life. 

So, when isn’t procrastination, procrastination? When it’s part of process.

The truth is, I noodle. And, I noodle, and then I noodle some more. Then, the pieces start to fit into place, like a mystery puzzle when you don’t exactly know what it’s going to look like completed. At that point, often the project really cranks, like it has a mind of its own, until it's a little jewel of creation. It becomes the product of what I now call Productive Procrastination.

Ah, there’s a reframe!

I think this new recognition of procrastination deserves some love here. Productive procrastinating can actually be very helpful.

I ran across three TED Talks recently that sparked more thought along these lines.

One of my favorite TED Talks, "Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator", Tim Urban talks about what happens when we procrastinate and how the "instant gratification monkey mind" takes the wheel, involving us in everything except what we're wanting to get done. Fellow procrastinators, this talk is a must-see. It's hilarious and my guess is you'll see yourself in what he describes. 

I say the monkey mind can be a great friend to creative productive procrastination.

In a fascinating TED Talk, “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers,” psychologist Adam Grant concluded that some of the most original and creative thinkers procrastinate, they incubate. “Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in non-linear ways, to make unexpected leaps.” He says, “Procrastination can be a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity." As a result of this process, "some of most creative people are fast to start and slow to finish." Yes!

The creative process is not rational, “the true essence of creativity is unexpectedness.”

That really takes the pressure off. Some of the most brilliant people I know are 11th hour geniuses. No matter how much time they have, they continually pull off brilliance at the last minute.

Author Manoush Zomorodi in her TED Talk “How Boredom Can Lead to Brilliant Ideas,” says, when you engage in mundane tasks you enter “default mode. Your body goes on autopilot and your brain gets busy forming new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems.” You can probably recall times when THE idea or solution or word or thing came to you while you were doing something mundane, or by rote, like driving or taking a shower. Not that you should be bored while you’re driving, but your body is on autopilot so your mind can wander somewhat.

So, here are some ways to be a Productive Procrastinator:

  • Get bored. Do nothing. Stare at the wall. And...
  • Be still and just think. That’s it. Just noodle. Don’t take notes, don’t try and catch a thought. Just allow your mind to travel. Set a timer if you want to. Know that you’ll remember what you’re supposed to remember.

    “You call it procrastinating, I call it thinking.” Aaron Sorkin

  • Engage is some mundane, autopilot tasks: laundry, dishes, mow the lawn, any by-rote physical task.
  • Allow your imagination to take flight. This time take notes. No editing. No judging. Just free associate, mind to paper.
  • Be in nature. Being around such alive energy, it’s definitely where I do some of my best noodling.
  • Idea-storm, word-storm and brainstorm with others.
  • Keep trying new ideas and fresh ways to look at things. Sometimes it’ll take several passes before it’s the winner.
  • Know that “bad” ideas are simply pre-great ideas.

Remember, reflection is the Productive Procrastinator’s secret weapon. It's how ideas germinate and generate.

Then, put your project on your dance card. Make an appointment with yourself to get back to work on moving your project forward.

And, relax. There will be plenty of time to procrastinate again!


The Trifecta of Failure

Comparison, competition and perfection - the trifecta for failure. And what to do about them. 

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Photo by Andrew Worley on Unsplash

All three of these beauties – Comparison, Competition and Perfection - present themselves to me often, in varying degrees, one at a time, or when things are really fun they show up at my door as the three Witches of Eastwick, taking up residence in my castle, car, computer, office, dialogue and of course the mind, wreaking havoc, getting wild and basically controlling everything.

This is the way the Trifecta works. Each of them has their own bag of tools and spells designed to accomplish one thing: to keep us in place, safe from harm (getting hurt, rejected or dismissed). Their nutrients are fear, shame, disappointment, disillusionment, frustration and regret. And as long as we serve up these goodies our unwelcome guests are never going to leave the party and they block the door so we can never leave either.

Comparison Robs Us

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

A brilliant actress friend of mine was up for the role of a lifetime. It’s a role she'd wanted since she was a child and she had a great shot at it. After receiving a callback she found out she was one of only a handful of others called back. So, unable to stop herself, she began Googling (Yep, Google is in the Trifecta’s toolkit). She looked up the other actresses also up for the role and then unwittingly gave her cursor over to Comparison. And, as we so often do, she could only see what they possessed that she thought she didn’t. She lost the part before even walking in the door to the callback.

“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” Iyanla Vanzant

I fished out the email I’d sent to her at the time, because this is what we do for each other as friends, we provide that soft place to land and then give a boost up so they can look in the mirror. Believe me, she's done the same for me. 

Here’s what I said: “What you bring to the table is so unique and wonderful and completely different than anyone else. There's NO ONE like you. You bring your YEARS of experience and expertise and talent and skill, in a way that no one else does. No one can compare or compete with that. It doesn't matter what their resume looks like (or anything else for that matter). Truly. At this stage of the game, you're in the room with very experienced actresses. That's where you want to be. If you just focus on that, then you'll stay on your A-game. Let them play their game and you play yours. And, don't allow them to rob you of your experience by giving them your time and energy; it gives your power away.”

This comes up for me as I follow brilliant writers who have published numerous books and I think I can’t possibly hold a candle to that at this point. A myriad of reasons (food for Comparison) present themselves: I’m too old, it’s too late, they’re better, smarter, prettier (not sure why but this comes in too but it does), braver, you name it I’ve projected it.

But, here’s the thing. When you compare yourself against others, you’ve given away your power to something outside of yourself. 

Comparison leads to judgment, which almost always leads to self-judgment.

Let's Reframe Comparison

Take a moment to think about reframing comparison. Look at what you admire about the other. Pay a brief and silent homage to that person’s success.

Empowerment coach Andrea Quinn, says, “Until you’re able to appreciate and honor the other’s success you won’t have the space to do it for yourself.” That’s how debilitating comparing yourself to others can be. It locks you in the deep freeze of your own prison. The first step to unlocking it for yourself is to appreciate the other.

Then, look in your own mirror. Dig deep and acknowledge what strengths and talents you bring to the party.  What are you serving at the table? What do you do that you know in your core gives you an edge as you?

Competition is a close bedfellow.

Now, certainly there’s something to be said for understanding your marketplace, or "competition" as marketers like to say. Knowledge is power when it’s used as information that serves you. But, when Competition is fed with all of those things we listed above at your self-defeating party, then it’s a blocker and not a helper.

Funny, the idea of competition came up recently as I was driving to an appointment. In the middle of the canyon with winding roads, I was minding my own business when suddenly the car behind me – a Honda with a thick front bumper guard – was on my tail, honking and trying to push me faster. Stop signs and other traffic didn’t matter; this guy was trying to be a force. In the past it would have stressed me out because I would try to please and play by his rules. This time, I surrendered to the metaphor and found it really interesting how much he was trying to get ahead. I thought, Dude, I’m going at my own speed, in my lane, you’ll just have to deal.

[Related: Pick a Lane, Follow the Road Baby]

Then, when we were on a wider thoroughfare I found myself competing with him. I played a game, trying to get ahead and around him, beating him through a light or slowing down on purpose to piss him off.

I caught myself and laughed out loud. It got me thinking about how much focus I was giving to his journey and not my own. I was literally giving this other annoying driver all of my attention. So, I stopped, slowed down my breath and focused on where I was going at my own speed, which to be honest was slower and more steady.

Pretty soon I forgot about him only to be aroused a few moments later by a series of loud beeps several cars behind me. Sure enough it was the Honda guy with the front bumper guard, torturing some other driver who was in his way. It struck me that people like him often need a protective bumper; they’ll keep running into or barreling over obstacles along the way. Awesome, if that works for them. But, that’s not the way I roll. So, why was I trying to compete with him? We both seemed to be on the same road, going in a similar direction, but we each have different purpose and reasons for doing so. In truth, I had no interest in where he was going.

When we focus on our competition we can lose sight of our own purpose.

Competition can foster copycat thinking and actions rather than originality and authenticity based on your own gifts and magic. When you lose those you lose yourself.

“Because she competes with no one, no one can compete with her.” Lau Tzu

Let's Reframe Competition

When you realize that no one makes it alone, often aligning or collaborating with those forging similar paths can sometimes bolster you and inspire you to keep going toward your own goals, dreams and desires. Then you have a community rather than a field of competition. That feels pretty good. Seek out those who have done what you want to do. Learn from them, partner with them, help each other and all the while, forge your own way.

Nobody has your magic sauce. Remember that. Get back to your own self worth.

Then, there’s Perfection

Perfection is the lurker, the wallflower at the party. Perfection can be the non-starter that keeps you from engaging in life all together.

I know so many incredibly talented people who are brilliant at what they do – in their own rooms. They re-do it, edit it, start over, keep polishing, get feedback and then start it all over again. All the while robbing the world of their gifts.

Trust me, I’ve been there. A lot. Just one more pass, then I’ll send it out. It just needs something…and then it will be ready. I will be ready when it’s perfect.

Perfection keeps us playing small. And, that’s not doing anyone any good.

Brene Brown says perfectionism is “a 20-ton shield. We carry it around thinking it’s going to protect us from hurt. But, it protects us from being seen.”

Yikes.

Progress not perfection

When we think of our work as progress rather than perfection, when we release it into the world it takes the pressure off of trying to be perfect. It’s a work in progress. We are a work in progress.

[Related: 6 Reasons Why Progress, Not Perfection]

Say it with me, fellow perfectionists. “I am a work in progress.”

Hmmm. Look around. The sky didn’t fall, the world kept spinning and guess what? People will only notice that you’ve stepped a bit more into your light, which allows them to give themselves permission to do the same thing. And, that's a gift that keeps on giving. 

So, our lovely little Trifecta of failure, reframed becomes a…

Trifecta of Purpose and Success:

Comparison becomes Appreciation, Gratitude & Self-Acknowledgment.

Competition becomes Collaboration, Community & Self-Respect.

Perfection becomes a Work-in-Progress & Self-Trust.

Now, that’s a trio worth inviting to the party and taking along for the ride.


Mastering The Art of Fear

 How to allow fear to work for you instead of against you.

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Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash 

I think about fear a lot. I mean, at times we all do, right? Lately it's been a very loud companion as I dig deeper into writing my memoir. No matter the situation, whenever it shows up I run the gamut in my relationship with fear. I see it, dread it, fight it, am pissed off at it, run from it, cry with it and am utterly fascinated by it for the never-ending lessons and conversations that derive from it. 

Recently I listened to Linda Sivertsen's Beautiful Writers Podcast when she and guest co-host, Martha Beck interviewed author Glennon Doyle. They were discussing Glennon's extremely raw bestselling memoir, LOVE WARRIOR, which is sitting next in my Kindle queue. I'm an admirer of all three women and their work. This was a great interview where they delved into a wide range of topics centering on their commitments to being completely truthful in the expression of their stories and the way that stretched and freed them.

I was listening in my car and suddenly realized I kept exhaling, loudly, and my whole body was vibrating, my stomach like the engine room of the Titanic. Honestly, their conversation scared the sh*t out of me as I wade tender-footed into the pool of my own stories, uncovering little places where I've been hiding, often in plain sight, fearful of how it might be received. It was big. And, it couldn't have come at a more opportune time because this fear of expressing my deep truths to someone other than my cats, often has me paralyzed. 

When I sat feeling the bigness, what I discovered led to a more expansive aha: this engine in my belly, this fire that made me exhale like a dragon, is a fuel, an ammunition if you will, like I haven't experienced in a long time. Like it goes deep and wide, echoing back decades, the kind of echo you hear in canyons and see when you look at your reflection in a house of mirrors. The truth is, this reverberation has been growing louder for a while now.

[As an aside, although it's not really an aside because it's such a big part of my story, I've been on a 30-day cleanse, eating only clean food. The intense vibration I felt I couldn't feel before because I was numbing out on an addiction to sugar and overeating. Now, I could actually FEEL the raw fear in my belly which turned into food for my soul and fuel for my work when before I was feeding emotions that numbed me from feeling anything else. It feels incredible, honestly.] 

I had lunch with a friend recently and we got into a great discussion about fear. He said he believes fear drives everything, good and bad. It's a constant no matter what. I think there's truth to that.

And, it got me thinking about how mastering fear rather than fighting or trying to conquer it might turn fear into an ally instead of an opponent. It's like mastering an art form; at times you feel the art might kill you, until you reach a place of working with the art, willing the art, arriving at the mastery of the art. Could it be the same with fear? 

The famed music producer Jimmy Iovine in HBO'S THE DEFIANT ONES said things turned the corner for him early in his career when "fear became a tailwind rather than a headwind." What a game-changing shift in mindset! When fear is a headwind, getting in your way, it can be so strong that it keeps you in place, stagnant, stuck or pushes you entirely away from what you want. It can feel like fear has a power of its own.

When fear is fuel for intention it's the tailwind that catapults you forward. Gary Zukav said in SEAT OF THE SOUL, "Every action, thought and feeling is motivated by intention...your intention creates your reality." When intention is aligned with your fear-turned-into-fuel it's a very powerful forward momentum.

The game-changer is the knowledge that we are the ones controlling our fear, not the other way around. 

I had a friend a few years ago who used to say when she was afraid of doing something it made her feel truly alive, to go into the fear and do it anyway. 

That can be called many things: courage, bravery, boldness. They all give fear a new role in the game. 

Invite fear to be your partner, to work with you instead of against you. Is it a fear of rejection or of failure or of success that you have? If you take fear by the hand and move forward with it into each of those arenas, you take control and allow fear to morph and transform into passion and action.

Put your fears, as kindling, into the fire of your own engine. Then, just watch what happens. It could create the tailwind you've been waiting for. 

 


These Words Can Change Your Mindset

 

Thought-catalog-214785

I recently reconnected with an old friend with whom I'd been out of touch for several years. She's going through a challenging transition which includes selling her home, something she doesn't want to do, but has to. Interestingly, I went through a similar transition at about the same time we'd last spoken. So, the timing of our phone reconnect all of sudden seemed rather divinely directed. I shared something with her that someone said to me during that time that shifted everything for me. And, when I said the words, she had a very similar reaction.

It got me thinking about how much words, when you hear them at the right time, can shift mindset in an instant.

From a place of boy-have-I-been-there, I shared my experience with her. I was laid off in 2008 and was out of steady work for over two years. I was in a daily struggle to try and keep my house. During that time, my friend and financial advisor, Lisa Gould, was a lifeline of truth. We often discussed various alternatives and on this particular phone call it was a brass tacks breakdown of what it would take for me to, in fact, hang on to the house. And, it literally felt like hanging on for dear life. I loved that house and my identity was ingrained with being its owner, making every little inch of it mine and sharing it with others. It gave my life a meaning that came from years of creating the meaning, by habit, by stories about the American Dream and that home ownership was an integral part of being a successful adult. I felt like a failure if I couldn't keep my home. 

When I discussed all of this with Lisa, during the brass tacks chat, she said, "Wouldn't you rather set yourself up for success than protect yourself from failure?" 

Wait, what? Say that again, I said. 

"Wouldn't you rather set yourself up for success than protect yourself from failure?" 

I still remember where I was sitting when I heard those words. Literally everything shifted in my body, my face felt flush and I felt alive, like I had choices. And, what shifted was my mindset.

And, the reason it made such an impact in that moment, is that I was ready to hear it, to receive and to incorporate it. That's when mindset shift happens. You hear or read something just at the moment when you're ready. It wasn't until she said it that I saw that's exactly what I'd been doing: trying like crazy to protect myself from failure.

Protecting yourself from failure is looking over your shoulder, stopping the bleeding with a bandaid that doesn't hold, being in a constant state of shame for fear of what others might think and always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's painful and a self-generating cycle of doom. You feel like a loser.

Because here's the thing, since what you focus on expands (another phrase that's a true mindset shifter), protecting yourself from failure focuses your attention on the impending failure. 

Setting yourself up for success is looking forward, cutting your losses and moving on so they're not shackles holding you down. It's knowing that your circumstances don't define you, it's what you do with and about the circumstances, that do. Setting yourself up for success becomes all about intention. When you focus on your intentions for success, then success expands. 

Gary Zukav in The Seat of Soul said, "You create your reality with your intentions." So, if your intention is to protect from failing, then you'll be in that state. And, if your intention is to continually be serving your highest good with your choices which lead to success, then you'll be living in that state. 

Well, that changed everything for me at that time. Literally in that moment, my home became a house, brick and mortar. It removed the emotion which is what was keeping me so attached. The emotion is what linked to the shame and feeling of failure. In a success mindset, it became a transaction that freed me to rebuild. Was it hard? You bet. Short selling my house was a huge financial hit. But, I recognize it as a moment in my life, a circumstance I went through. Once it was done it cut the chains that held me back, in so many ways that went beyond selling the house. Because when your mindset is changed it effects everything.

I remind myself often of Lisa's words. And, when I find myself in a conversation like I had with my old friend, I share them as well. With life's ebbs and flows, this phrase has ongoing benefits in my life. It's one of my mantras now.

Whenever I see Lisa I tell her how profound it was and that it needs to be the subtitle of her book! 

What words or phrases have shifted your mindset? Make them a mantra and share them with others. It's the best way to not only expand your own life, but expand and raise the collective consciousness as well.

 


Want to Grow? Look Beyond What You Know

There's so much there to find.

Edge of water

The temp read 101 degrees as I pulled into Ralph’s parking lot. It was a challenge as usual to find a parking spot which was further exasperated by the fact that I was hot and didn’t want to walk a mile to the door. So, again as usual, I trekked up and down the rows of parked cars watching for brake lights indicating someone was pulling out.

I turned down the last row, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a ramp. I have no idea why I had never noticed this any of the numerous times I’d been to this grocery store, but today it felt it had been put there just for me. It led to underground parking and as I drove down the ramp it was like finding a secret passage way. I found a spot right by the door so I whipped my Mini Cooper S into place.

I grabbed a cart and rode up the elevator next to a man with a beard and a twinkle in his eye that made me think of Merlin the magician, or a young Professor Dumbledore. I said, “This is the first time I’ve parked down here. It’s like a whole new world.” Without skipping a beat, he said, “a whole new world that’s a whole lot cooler.” Well said, Professor.

It got me thinking about what can happen when you look beyond what you already know, or think you know.

How often do you find yourself thinking something won't work because the thing you tried, failed to make it happen? Or a solution to a problem feels less than satisfactory, but it was the general consensus so it's what you go with? Or you've fallen into a habit or routine that used to work for you but it's lost it's power or value, however you keep doing it because it's what you've always done? Or you just can't figure it out so you quit? Or you can't find something, so you give up?

We've all done it. No judgment here. Heck I didn't even know there was underground parking at a shopping center I've been going to every week for almost two years!

But, what I experienced made me realize - or remember- that there's always another way. There's always something beyond what we already know. There's nearly always another way into it. 

So... Want to grow? Look beyond what you know.

Or simply ask, what else is there? What's beyond what I already know? Take a breath and allow the answer to reveal itself.

Then go there. You never know. Looking beyond what you know could lead to a secret passage way to exactly where you want to be. 

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you've already mastered, you will never grow." Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Related: Here's What It Means to Level Up


The Key to Unlocking the Door to Your Best Life

Do this one thing and it will change the way you live your life. And, it's simpler than you might think.

Key in door
photo by Isabela Kronemberger

I was going to be seeing some people I hadn’t seen in awhile, a couple of them with whom I shared some history. Enough history that I had some angst about seeing them. Enough so that I started rehearsing dialog in my head days before, playing out various scenarios – some good, some not so good – and rummaging in my closet to decide what to wear so that I looked more at ease than I felt.

Ever been there? Sometimes it can take over and become another character in the room, the character that plays out the scenarios which stops you from being present with what’s really happening in the moment. Stops you from being you.

At a recent women’s retreat I was part of fabulous discussion where we tapped into a notion that flipped a switch for all of us. The idea of being Available. Wha??? Certainly, it's a word we're all familiar with, but this way of thinking about it was new and enthralling.

To get to that aha moment, we acknowledged where in our lives we were not there, where things felt stuck or stagnant or scary. Where we stopped ourselves from moving forward or from having a tough discussion or from asking for what we want/need. Where we had showed up halfway for fear of the not knowing, or where we edited ourselves down to being a fraction of who we are because of wanting to avoid conflict. Where we were trying to control the situation so much that we put others off and eventually lost control in a bigger way.

So we asked, what’s the shift that will change who we are in those circumstances? It’s more than being authentic, although that’s vital too. It’s more than being present. It’s more than being open.  

It’s being actively present and open, which we determined meant being Available.

Being Available means being actively present and open. That unlocked the gateway. Or rather, blasted it wide open!

Then, we gave it voice, which birthed a mantra that carries you boldly into any situation. It literally calms and revs your energy at the time. It centers you, gives you confidence and allows your heart to lead the way. And, being mindfully available is a starter, not a stopper. And, it’s simple.

Follow “I’m available” with whatever you’re about to do, or what you're desiring to make happen.

  • I’m available for this meeting.
  • I’m available for this discussion.
  • I’m available for my next, better job. I’m available for this interview
  • I’m available for, to and in this relationship.
  • I’m available for this phone call.
  • I’m available for this date.
  • I’m available for my body to be healthy.
  • I’m available for and to my best life.

Try it! I’m available…

It makes it even more powerful when you incorporate it into conversation with people. "I'm available to and for creating the best solution for all of us." Taking ownership of your availability is so incredibly empowering. 

Being in a state and mindset of availability allows you to really show up. It can be a baby step toward fulfilling a big goal, or toward conquering a fear. Just be available for the baby step, and just the baby step. Then, the next step and the next. And, when the big opportunity presents itself, you’re ready and AVAILABLE!

Being available - and stating that you're available - helps to release expectations and false foregone conclusions. 

Being available means being undefended, knowing there's nothing you have to defend. Being defensive or defended closes off your availability. You're just available and that's enough. 

Consistently being available makes what seemed impossible much more possible. It removes the chains that have held you back from all that is possible for you.

Thus begins a new way of thinking, of showing up for ourselves and to the world. I do it all the time now and guess what? I'm available!


Raise Your Thoughts to Raise the World

 

Love hands

There have been some renovations at my home recently and I was awakened early Saturday morning by the vibration of some power tools in the backyard. The foundation was literally humming and it quickly shifted my energy, making me want to get up and get something accomplished.

It got me thinking about the impact of vibration on energy, thoughts and consciousness, particularly after the past couple tumultuous weeks. I noticed how ill I felt after days of reading divisive, combative and hateful posts on social media as well watching the increase of frightening actions based on hate and fear. You can feel the divisiveness in your mind, body and spirit. It’s splintering.

FB post

 

So much so that I took a break from all media for a few days. After I posted this, I started thinking more about the power of raising our thoughts to raise the world.

 

 A few nights later I spent an evening with a group of people – people I would call highly conscious – and the collective pain and grief were palpable in regards to what's happening in our nation right now as well as the residuals of the divisive election season. We were all shell shocked and taken by surprise at how deeply we’ve been affected. Many of us felt fractured and torn, down deep, by the discord that’s come to be, by the ground swell of a low, fear-based vibration that’s coming to light.

The Power of the Collective

During that evening I came to understand more the true power of the collective consciousness. Power that can either surge low when people speak despicably toward one another and the seeds are planted for further hate mongering. Or power that can soar high through thoughts, words and actions that foster love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness and a collective healing.

David R. Hawkins in his book, Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment,” says that “consciousness evolves through progressive levels of power that can be calibrated as to relative strength.” In other words, each level of consciousness is mirrored with an emotion that carries a measurement of vibration. The lower the calibration number, the lower the vibration and the lower the emotion.

The measurements under 250 on his scale of consciousness are fear-based levels - despair, anger, hate, regret, grief - that lead to what he calls disempowerment: destruction, despondency, humiliation, withdrawal, misery, tragedy. The calibrations 250-1000+ are the love-based levels - willingness, acceptance, love, joy, reason, peace - that lead to empowerment: intention, understanding, forgiveness, revelation, bliss, transfiguration and the highest being pure enlightenment, which is the level of Christ, Buddha, etc.

HAWKINS' MAP OF THE SCALE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

The Map of Consciousness is a wise guide to live by. The goal is to evolve toward and operate from the higher levels or vibrations of consciousness.

Imagine from this perspective, the power of raising the collective consciousness. That's an unstoppable force of healing and love. And, it starts with each of us.

The Effects on Society

In fact, in his book “Healing and Recovery,” Hawkins illustrates the effects of the levels of consciousness on society. 

Society correlation level_and_problems

 

You can see how the lower levels of thought and consciousness breed the types of behavior we’ve been seeing come forward more recently. But, the power to change it is within us.

How do you make a shift?

It’s human to feel all of the levels from time to time. This is where choice and self-awareness come into play.

When you feel anxiety or despair over what's in front of you, start by recognizing what you’re feeling and what’s underneath it? Is it fear? Is so, of what? Is it anger? Naming it is the first step to raising the thoughts around it.

A lot of people are feeling anger right now, on all sides of the coin. It's a valid and real emotion. In a 2015 article, "A Clear Map to Your Spiritual Enlightenment," Hawkins says about anger: 

"Anger is very obviously a high energy emotion. However, if an angry person knows how to utilize that anger constructively instead of destructively, it can energize resolve and determination.

Anger in the form of resentment may lead to hatred, grievances, grudges, and eventually even to murder or war. But the process going on in consciousness is one of expansion; for example, when an animal is angry, it swells up. When the cat gets angry, its tail swells up to almost twice its normal size, and the cat tries to look imposing. The biological purpose of expansion is to intimidate one's apparent enemy. The energy of anger can be positive if used to pursue something better, allowing us to move up to the next level."

When you find yourself at one of the fear-based levels, take a pause. Give yourself some love and then blast the situation, person or experience with some love as well. Soon you’ll find yourself out of that place and on our way up a level of consciousness.

Activism coming from raised thoughts and higher consciousness, particularly as a collective force, will result in a much stronger, love-abiding nation and peaceful world.

It starts with one raised thought at a time.


Letting Go is a Four-Letter Word

“Oh honey, life is about letting go.”

This was the pearl of wisdom a good friend’s mother gave her many years ago after she’d had her first child, when every little thing seemed so weighted and overly important, so much so that she was in a constant state of angst. “Oh honey, life is about letting go,” her wise mother said.

This friend and I were recently discussing the process of letting go and how challenging it is at times. We were each other's sounding board for some front burner issues we Let Gowere both trying to release.

I’ve come to the conclusion that letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life, proven by the fact that there are literally thousands of books (328,000 in Amazon alone), articles, seminars and schools of thought on the subject of letting go, available to us hangers-on who at times find it nearly impossible to let go.

Sometimes the notion of letting go can get so stuck in my craw that it’s no wonder it took several stabs before finally completing this post. I'm trying to let that go...

Why is it so hard to let go? 

In a Psychology Today article, PhD Judith Sills said, “At its deepest level, the prospect of letting go forces us up against our three strongest emotional drivers: love, fear and rage.”

The attachments we make are based on those drivers as well, and the resulting attachments can be tethered to many trigger points where holding on can feel like the end all, like we’ll never shake the thing that is keeping us stuck. It’s human to form attachments; attachments to the past or to a certain desired outcome or to the fear of a different outcome; or to a person, or the idea of a person such as the picture you have formed in your psyche of your ideal mate.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a connection, particularly one that was powerfully formed. Sometimes it’s a memory that links to a painful past event, where you play the scenario over and over again, perhaps wishing for a different set of actions or exchange of dialog.

Or we get stuck on what might have been, if only it had lasted a little longer, or if only the conversation had gone another way, like a promise unfulfilled that we keep trying to fulfill in our mind.

Or we worry about what hasn’t happened yet. Often we have a hard time letting go of the fear of the unknown or fear of the future. Or, because of an “idea or ideal” we have formed about a specific desire, whether it’s a job or relationship, we project that ideal onto something or someone that isn’t the right fit anyway, but we become convinced we can make it work, so we hang on. And hang on. It's exhausting!

Or we hold onto limiting beliefs that have simply become a habit. These are the what-ifs and the yeah-buts and the when-I-have-this-or-that-it-will-all-start-to-happen or it will then be okay. Sometimes these are the hardest to let go of, the limiting beliefs that effect everything in our lives.

So what is letting go and how do we get there?

Empowerment coach and speaker Andrea Quinn teaches that, “Letting go is all about making room for the something better. To ultimately accomplish anything of value, you must let go of any outcome, any idea about what it’s supposed to look like.”

Author David R Hawkins says in his book, “Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender,” says, “Letting go is a mechanism of surrender, setting us free from emotional attachments.”

To my way of thinking, letting go is the greatest way we can honor ourselves, and the only way to evolve into the best version of ourselves. Letting go means taking back control over our emotions, thoughts and actions.

Because the truth is, the hanging on, the very root of any attachment, is formed in the mind, so the letting go must take place there as well. So, here are some suggestions for changing our thoughts and creating room for a new way of thinking.

  • Surround the situation with compassion and understanding.
  • Forgiveness is paramount – of self and others – for events, actions or words from the past. Release the past to the past.
  • Express gratitude for the lessons learned. Gratitude lightens the load.
  • Stay in the present with right now and remind yourself that all that matters is this moment, right now. Breathe into that.
  • Go cold turkey – force yourself, or allow yourself, to stay away from the topic or situation that’s keeping you in a place of discomfort.
  • Free your attachment to an outcome by not focusing on the endgame, but rather the journey and the juice and joy along the way.
  • Stop judging yourself – give yourself a break for feeling stuck. And give yourself a pat on the back for stepping up for yourself.
  • Write, write and then write some more - sit down and write about the thing you're hanging onto. Get really detailed about how it makes you feel, describe what it looks like and what your life would be like if that thing, or pain or fixation didn’t exist. Play in that freedom for awhile. Chances are the attachment will loosen and lessen next time you think about it.
  • Talk to someone, whether it’s a friend who can act as a sounding board, or a professional who can help you release what you’re holding onto.

So why is "letting go" a four-letter word?

To my way of thinking, all of the above come down to one underlying and pervading force – Love.

All of these processes involved in letting go couldn’t take place without love. Love is ultimate surrender. With love, you have compassion and forgiveness, which are the keys to the freedom of release. Of letting go. Just think about it. Even pausing and breathing into the words compassion and forgiveness creates of sense of release, of space, of freedom.

Which is why this phrase popped into my head: “Letting go is a four-letter word.”

Believe me there are times when I can think of other four-letter words to associate with not being able to let go!

But, then I know that my work is getting back to this.

Love leads to letting go. Letting go equals love.

So, next time you are trying desperately to let go of something, shed a little love on the subject.

Related:

The Subtle Difference Between Giving Up and Letting Go

Finding the Path of Least Resistance

Two Ways to Recognize and Let Go of Fear